Saturday, 20 January 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 2 - Favourite Photo

(I think I'm going to be interpreting the week numbers loosely in this series!)

Week 2's prompt was "Favorite Photo." -  Tell the story of the people, place, and event in a favourite photo. Where did the photo come from? Who has the original now? How did you get a copy of it?

It's difficult to choose one favourite photograph, amongst all the thousands I have but, in keeping with my aim of working through my ancestors systematically this year, I've chosen this one:

These are my paternal grandparents, Donald PARRY and Elsie THOMAS.  The photograph was taken at a party to celebrate a special wedding anniversary.  It's the first in a series of photographs that gradually expand through the family, to include their children, children's spouses, grandchildren and then, finally, everyone who was at the party.  Including the piano player who, according to a story told to me years later, just happened to be someone in the pub at the time who was able to play the piano!

I don't think there is one 'original' print of the photograph - all of the main family members had copies.

In this post, I'm focusing on my grandfather, who was born on 3rd February 1904, in Mordiford, Herefordshire, the son of John PARRY and Rosina Louisa, formerly PREECE.  Donald was baptised on 17 April 1904 - I was rather surprised when I first found that baptism entry on the British Vital Records cds, as it was less than 100 years old at the time.  But thanks to that surprise, which led me to enthusiastically show the entry to my mother, and then randomly decide to search for one of her "brick wall" ancestors, we solved that brick wall of hers!  (I'll save the details of who that was, for when I tell that ancestor's story.)

Donald had one sister, Rosina Jane, who was born in Hereford on 5th April 1905.  Sadly, their mother, Rosina Louisa, passed away sixteen days after giving birth to her daughter.

One can only imagine what Donald's early life must have been like, having lost his mother so young.  Or how their father coped with the two infants, whilst also trying to earn a living.  I suspect other members of the family may have helped out, but actual evidence for what happened is in short supply.  Perhaps there were 'non-family' carers involved - there has to be some explanation for the anomalies I found in the local school records.  On the 3rd February 1908, Donald's was admitted into All Saints Infants School but the school registers show his father's name as Donald Martin Parry, rather than as John, and Donald himself is recorded as Donald in one register and Albert Donald in another.

Although his sister was over a year younger than Donald, she is admitted to the infants school just three months after Donald, in May 1908.  Was this as a result of a difficult home situation?

There are errors in her school admission entry, as well, with the father's name recorded as Donald Martin again and her birth date entered as the 19th April, rather than the 5th.  She is also named Jane, rather than Rosina - but I do know she was called 'Joan' throughout her later life, so potentially this is not an error, but the name used for her from infancy.

One of my aims of following the 52ancestors series is to help me organise and record the information I currently have on my family.  But it also serves to indicate where more research is required. And clearly there is a need to investigate these errors in the school records further, if possible, so I have added an item to my Research Log, to look for any school log books which might reference the family and clarify the details on the admission registers.

I don't have any major concerns about the errors though, as the address for the entries, 104 Widemarsh Street, ties in with where Donald and 'Jane' appear in the 1911 census, with their names as per their birth certificates:

However, the 1911 census provided me with a mystery, which you might have noticed - where is their father, John PARRY?

He wasn't actually difficult to find.  What was more difficult was identifying why he was where he was - since he was in Hereford Gaol!

I'll save the full story (or as much as I currently know of it) for when I write about John.  But, just to avoid too much suspense, he was jailed on the 24 March 1911, by the Sheriff's Court, for 'Contempt of Court'.  And he wasn't released until the 9th December 1911.

Donald remained at the infants school until March 1912, when he transferred to the 'senior school'. Since he was only aged 8, I assume the 'senior school' was what we would now call a Junior School.  It was possibly "St Owens Council School" as, in 1914, Donald was awarded a prize from there, for regular attendance:

The book was Treasure Island and Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson (and purchased from C.E.Brunwell, Bookseller, Broad Street, Hereford, according to a little sticker in the back). I wonder if these tales of adventures inspired Donald, who later set off on travels of his own.

I currently don't have any further information about the family until 1918 - in November of that year, Donald and Rosina's father, John, passed away, aged 53.  It must have been a very difficult year for them, as their grandfather, Thomas PARRY, had also died in the February.  I don't know what level of contact Donald had, had with his grandfather, but it is possible that Thomas had been living with John and his family in the months prior to Thomas's death, although he actually died elsewhere. (This is based on the address given on Thomas's probate entry.)

What happened to Donald and Rosina after their father, John, died?

As far as I can gather, Rosina was looked after by an aunt and Donald was sent to stay with (and potentially work for) other relatives.  Almost five years later, in September 1923, Donald obtained the Grant of Administration for his father, whose effects were £30 14s 3d.  Then, in April 1924, he emigrated to Canada, in the company of a Rowland Thomas LEWIS.  We believe the two of them were on an agricultural scheme, but the arrangements are unclear - according to the Form 30a, Donald had paid his own fare across.

I haven't yet discovered when Donald returned to the UK, but he was here by February 1927, when he married Elsie May THOMAS.  Donald and Elsie lived for a while in Hanbury, Worcestershire, where they appear in the 1939 register. Later they moved to Herefordshire and then down to Cornwall, before eventually moving back to Herefordshire, and finally Worcestershire.

Donald and Elsie were able to come to my wedding.  We saw them in the months following that, when they chose some of the wedding photographs that they wished to have copies of. Sadly, Donald passed away before we had a chance to give them the copies.  I remember leaving the photographs with one of my aunts, after Donald's funeral, for her to give to Elsie at a more appropriate time.

It was one of their last 'days out' together.

Writing this has made me aware of how much information there is about my closest ancestors that still needs to be compiled properly - including any recollections of Donald and Elsie that those of us still alive might have.  The further back we go, the less detail we are likely to find out about our ancestors - so I think it's important that we record as much as we can about those we did know, and pass that information on to the generations to come.

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